Eight sets of Asian eyes moved eagerly from one American face to another. It was late evening on a Saturday, and as usual the Asian students were studying at a local coffee shop, preparing for their final exams. My American friends and I chatted with them mostly in English, but a few of us threw in bits of our limited local language — which brought out giggles and soft spoken answers.
We connected over topics such as food, local sites worth exploring, finals, homework and differing customs. None of us could stop smiling as both groups were able to have a brief but meaningful connection with people from a foreign culture they admire. This scenario sounds exactly like hundreds that we in Campus Target have each year in Asia. Except this was just this past Saturday night, at a Starbucks near a local university campus in Upstate New York!
As I looked around the circle and saw the exhilaration on those young faces, I was totally convicted. I’m about to travel 6,000 miles to bring the truth of the gospel to the Asia, and here were some of them right in my own Starbucks. I talk about having a heart for missions and reaching the world, and yet I have done next to nothing to connect with the foreign students within easy reach.
Thinking about it later, God brought to mind lyrics from the song “Salvation Is Here.”
Salvation is here
Salvation that died just to set me free
Salvation is here
Salvation is here and He lives in me
The answer the world is looking for lives in us. Thousands of international students come to the US every year, and only a handful are ever pursued as friends or even welcomed by Americans. I’m going to Asia now, but when I come back I don’t want to leave my connection to missions across an international border. The unreached are all around us, and their salvation lives in us.